A family that eats together stays together. And when you are having mac and cheese with your family, your cutest family member, i.e., your dog, looks at you with a sobbing face, asking for a bite.
This is when you ask yourself, is it safe for my dog? Can dogs have macaroni and cheese?
While the answer is YES, your dogs can eat a bit of macaroni and cheese, but consuming it in large amounts can be unhealthy for dogs and can cause health issues like vomiting, diarrhea, and other digestive issues.
You may be wondering what macaroni and cheese ingredients can cause trouble in dogs, what to do if your dog consumes mac and cheese, and what are good alternatives to it. Well, don’t you worry, you are all covered.
This article will act as a comprehensive guide and will answer all your queries at once; just stay with me and read along. Let us start with knowing the basics first: what’s in mac and cheese that makes it so unhealthy for dogs?
What’s in Mac and Cheese?
Macaroni and cheese contain many different ingredients, some of which are unhealthy for a dog’s body.
The dish has macaroni as its primary ingredient, which is basically a kind of noodle· The dish also contains butter and flour, which is used to make a roux for cheese sauce. Butter is also used for toppings.
Mac and cheese contains dairy products like milk and cheese. It has a variety of cheeses like cheddar and parmesan cheeses.
Then there comes seasonings, which have salt, pepper, and paprika in them. Bread crumbs or potato chips are also used in toppings.
Some of these ingredients are highly harmful to dogs, making macaroni and cheese a dish that should be avoided.
Are Mac and Cheese Safe for Dogs?
Mac and cheese, whether with cream cheese or with cottage cheese, should not be given to dogs. It contains dairy and gluten in them, both of which are not at all healthy for dogs.
Dogs are generally gluten and lactose-intolerant, and consuming mac and cheese can cause health issues like constipation, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. If your dog is able to digest a small quantity of dairy products, then maybe a bit of mac and cheese is okay, but not more than that.
Mac and cheese contain high carbohydrates and fat, which can cause your dog to gain weight and make them obese, which can further lead to other health problems like arthritis.
If regularly fed, mac and cheese also spikes sugar levels in dogs’ bodies, which can cause diabetes in healthy dogs.
Health Risks of Feeding Your Dog Macaroni and Cheese
Macaroni and cheese are good household snacks for humans. Still, it can be very harmful to your four-legged friend, and consuming it in high amounts may lead to several health problems, including but not limited to obesity, allergies, and digestive issues.
Let us have a look at some of the common health issues in dogs caused by the consumption of macaroni and cheese.
1. Weight Gain and Obesity
The main threat to dogs in eating macaroni and cheese in high amounts is it makes them obese.
Dogs have trouble processing sugar, and if sugar is consumed in high quantities, then the body, instead of converting it to glucose, starts storing it as fat.
When it gets stored as fat in the body, it makes them gain weight, which then leads to obesity, and excess sugar consumption may also cause diabetes in dogs.
Mac and cheese is also high in calories, which is also one factor that promotes unhealthy weight gain in dogs. When your dog has gained weight and is suffering from obesity, it can make their immune system very weak, and weight gain also causes arthritis in dogs.
2. Digestive Problems
Consumption of mac and cheese can certainly slump your dog’s ability to digest foods. There are dairy and also ingredients that have gluten in them, which can certainly hamper the gastrointestinal tract of a dog’s body.
If your doggo is lactose or gluten-intolerant and has a very sensitive stomach, then even a tablespoon of mac and cheese may show adverse reactions like diarrhea or vomiting in dogs.
There are some ingredients that are used in Mac and Cheese that are toxic to dogs, and if ingested, can cause toxicity in dogs.
Onion and Garlic are both poisonous to dogs, and these being used as toppings of mac and cheese makes the dish poisonous. There are also packaged macaroni and cheese available in the market, which have artificial ingredients for preservatives. The most common additives are Phthalates, which can cause toxicity and even cancer.
One unprecedented risk of feeding anything new to your fido is a risk of allergy because you may not know what triggers an allergy in your dogs, and any ingredients in a new dish can make your dog sick.
It is always advised to provide foods that are specifically made for dogs and avoid any food items or ingredients that can have harmful effects on dogs.
How much Mac and Cheese can Dogs Eat?
Dogs are not supposed to eat mac and cheese in high amounts as it poses many different health risks for them. However, if consumed accidentally or in a very small amount, there won’t be any severe harm to them other than constipation or diarrhea.
However, if a dog consumes mac and cheese in bulk, then things can go south very quickly and may cause abdominal pain, issues in the gastrointestinal tract, and vomiting.
Eating a lot of mac and cheese at once or small amounts frequently can cause diabetes and obesity in a healthy dog, which can then lead to other major health problems.
What to do if Your Dog Eats Mac and Cheese?
Dogs are keen on finding trouble, and if accidentally they have eaten mac and cheese, or you have given your dog some amount, then you got to know that mac and cheese can be dangerous.
There are a few steps you can follow to prevent any severe health issues in your dogs.
First thing first, do not panic; your dog will sense your emotions and will start panicking as well, which won’t be good in that situation.
While being calm, assess the situation and remove any remains of mac and cheese present on sight.
Check how much mac and cheese your dog has consumed; if the amount is small, then there won’t be any serious harm to your dog other than an empty stomach.
Next, you can do is monitor your dog for any abnormalities or uncommon behavior and whether they seem lazy and lethargic after the consumption.
If there are any signs of diarrhea or vomiting or abnormal bowel movements, then contact your vet immediately and, meanwhile, make available lots of fresh water, which will help the dog stay hydrated.
Upon contacting the vet, inform them about how much mac and cheese your dog has consumed, what adverse reactions your dog is showing, and how long ago the incident happened.
After conveying all the information, your vet will most likely give you some instructions, note them down, and follow them precisely. If your vet asks to come in, do not delay.
What can I Give my Dog Instead of Mac and Cheese?
There are plenty of other nutritious foods that you can give your dog as an alternative to mac and cheese.
Some of the most common and easiest foods are:
In the fruit section, you can try apples to give your dogs instead of Mac and Cheese. Apples promote clean and fine breath in dogs; they also have many nutrients that are beneficial to a dog’s health.
Just avoid feeding them seeds and core of the fruit, as it has cyanide, which can be harmful to your dog.
Bananas are another fruit that can be used as a treat, and it will be healthy for your dog as well. Bananas in any form are beneficial; just make sure your dog does not ingest the banana skin as it may cause upset stomachs in them.
If you are looking for solid food, then you can give them potatoes or sweet potatoes, both cooked and in an uncooked state.
Cooked shrimp are also a good option for your dog as they provide high-value nutrients to your dogs and keep them healthy.
But whenever you change your dog’s diet or tries any new recipe, always consult a vet before you feed your dog, as a veterinarian will make sure that the recipe or the diet has ample amount of vitamins and other vital nutrients that your dog needs, also will let you know of side effects of the ingredients if any.
It depends on whether your dog is lactose intolerant or not. If your dog is lactose intolerant, then he may have difficulty digesting cheese and other dairy products. Even if your dog is able to digest some of the dairy products, it is best to avoid cheese to prevent any upset stomach.
Yes, a dog can eat cooked macaroni, but it won’t be of any nutritional value to your dog. However, any added preservatives or toxic toppings like garlic and onions should be kept far away from the recipe.
Yes, plain macaroni can be given to your dog, but it doesn’t benefit your dog in any specific ways.
To sum up, it is not at all healthy for dogs to have mac and cheese in their meal. Mac and cheese contain toxic ingredients that can cause your dog abdominal pain, diarrhea, and other health-related issues. If your dog has eaten some mac and cheese accidentally, contact a vet immediately.
You can give your dog better alternatives to mac and cheese, like apples, cooked shrimp, and bananas, which have many health benefits and make their immune system better.
Dr. Lillian is a D.V.M. passionate about promoting awareness of dogs. She shares her expertise through her blogs on canineweekly.com and provides animal care services, including internal medicine, dermatology, and emergency care. Dr. Lillian is committed to contributing to animal welfare.